Psoriasis is a complex condition. In addition to causing itchy and dry patches on your skin, it can affect your emotional health.

The symptoms of psoriasis can be physically uncomfortable and prevent you from doing things you enjoy. Stigma surrounding the condition may also make you feel isolated and reduce your self-esteem.

Because of this, people who have psoriasis are at a higher risk for certain mental health conditions, including depression. Find out how psoriasis and depression are related, and when and how to seek help.

A 2010 study showed there’s a definite increased risk for depression among people with psoriasis compared to the general population.

Depression that occurs alongside psoriasis is known as a comorbidity. This means that both conditions are chronic and affect one another in direct ways.

In the same study, researchers found that having a psoriasis diagnosis increases the risk of a diagnosis of depression by at least 11.5 percent. If you have severe psoriasis, that risk jumps to 25 percent.

Since many people may be living with undiagnosed psoriasis or depression, the actual connection may be even higher.

In addition, psoriasis is typically first diagnosed between the ages of 15 and 25. During adolescence, depression occurs at higher rates — even in people without psoriasis. So, younger people with psoriasis may be at an increased risk of developing depression.

The appearance of psoriasis plaques can have a direct impact on your self-esteem. You may be especially self-conscious if your psoriasis tends to flare-up in areas that you can’t cover, like your face or your hands.

While you can treat flare-ups, you may not be able to prevent them from happening completely. Certain triggers may unpredictably lead to psoriasis symptoms. This can make you feel like you have no control over your body. Over time, this can take a psychological toll.

Many people still hold negative or false impressions about psoriasis. Living with this kind of stigma can be exhausting, and cause some people with psoriasis to feel ashamed of their appearance.

While more people are talking openly about their psoriasis than ever before, including some prominent celebrities, there’s still a lot of work to do. Talking openly about psoriasis is one of the best ways to reduce stigma surrounding the condition.

People who have psoriasis may feel limited when it comes to physical activity. Living with daily discomfort and symptoms that you may find embarrassing can lead you to avoid sexual intimacy or spending time with others.

In fact, a 2018 study showed that over 60 percent of people with psoriasis may experience some form of sexual dysfunction.

Additionally, an older study from 2007 indicated that at least 80 percent of people with psoriasis experience decreased productivity at work, at home, or at school due to their diagnosis.

To avoid psoriasis outbreaks, you may be told to avoid certain triggers. Some examples include smoking, stress, alcohol consumption, excess sun, and certain foods.

Following a stricter routine and cutting out some of your favorite foods indefinitely can reduce your quality of life. This may increase your risk for depression.

There may be a biological reason why psoriasis and depression are linked: inflammation. In a 2017 review, researchers wrote that mental health conditions can be caused by psoriasis, and they can also lead to psoriasis worsening. This suggests that there’s overlap between the biological causes of psoriasis and conditions like depression.

The researchers concluded that cytokines, which are small protein cells in your body that can trigger inflammation, may be linked to both psoriasis and depression symptoms.

Everyone experiences depression differently. You may have several symptoms or only a few. Some common symptoms include:

  • irritability
  • exhaustion or fatigue
  • difficulty sleeping or insomnia
  • changes in appetite
  • loss of interest in sex or sexual dysfunction
  • weight loss or weight gain
  • feelings of incompetence and worthlessness
  • intrusive or suicidal thoughts
  • inability to feel joy in activities that used to bring you pleasure
  • intense sadness
  • frequent crying
  • headaches
  • unexplained body pain or muscle cramps

If you’re experiencing any of these symptoms, see your doctor or a mental health professional, such as a psychiatrist. They can evaluate and treat symptoms that are affecting your life negatively. You may be asked to fill out a questionnaire to evaluate your thought patterns and behaviors.

If you’re experiencing suicidal or intrusive thoughts, call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 800-273-8255. You can also call the United Way Helpline to help you find a therapist at 800-233-4357.

Researchers are learning more about how to treat psoriasis in people who have depression. Changing the way you manage your psoriasis might improve your mental health.

Some recent studies indicate that switching to biologic medications that target inflammation can help with symptoms of psoriasis and depression. But these studies were limited due to the various different depression screening tools used. It’s also unknown if improvements to depression were from the medications or due to psoriasis symptoms improving.

More research is necessary to know if biologic medications are the answer for people who have depression and psoriasis.

Talk to your doctor to see if a change to your treatment plan can help. Finding the right medication to improve your psoriasis symptoms may in turn help with depression. If you continue to find easier ways to manage your symptoms, your depression may begin to feel more manageable.

There’s a definite link between psoriasis and depression. If you have psoriasis and believe you may also have depression, speak to your doctor about your treatment options. Changing the way you treat your psoriasis may improve your depression symptoms, too.